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TRENTON – Acting Attorney General Andrew J. Bruck and the Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor today announced that a Monmouth County general contractor has been charged with corporate misconduct and theft for allegedly misappropriating more than $139,000 in payments he received to build retail spaces in airports in Dallas and Austin, Texas.
Theodore M. Vitale, 63, of Brielle, who owns Petore Associates, Inc., (d/b/a Petore Construction) in Wall, was indicted on second-degree charges of misconduct by a corporate official and theft by failure to make required disposition of property received, and third-degree theft by deception in connection with the airport construction projects. The indictment was handed up by a state grand jury on August 18, 2021.
In July and August 2016, Atlanta-based retail merchant Paradies Lagardère, which operates stores, bars, and restaurants in airports across North America, hired Petore Construction to be its general contractor on various projects to construct retail space in the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport and the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.
As general contractor, Petore Construction was authorized to contract with various subcontractors to perform the work, paying them from monies the general contractor received from Paradies Lagardère.
Over the course of several months, Vitale, as sole owner and operator of Petore Construction, allegedly received $139,735 from Paradies Lagardère to pay a subcontractor for construction and electrical services on a 7-11 at the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and a Second Bar + Kitchen in the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, but never paid the subcontractor what it was owed for its work on these two Airport Projects.
Vitale also allegedly charged and received $3,500 from Paradies Lagardère as a premium for a payment bond and a performance bond, neither of which he procured.
The charges are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Second-degree crimes carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000. Third-degree crimes carry a sentence of three to five years in state prison and a criminal fine of up to $15,000.
Deputy Attorney General Leslie-Ann M. Justus presented the case to the State Grand Jury for the Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor under the supervision of Private Insurance Bureau Chief DAG Cheryl Maccaroni and Assistant Chief DAG Crystal Callahan. Investigative Analyst Marwa Kashef coordinated the investigation with Detective Justin Callahan.
Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Tracy M. Thompson noted that many cases have started with anonymous tips. People who are concerned about insurance cheating and have information about a fraud can report it anonymously by calling the toll-free hotline at 1-877-55-FRAUD, or visiting the Web site at www.NJInsurancefraud.org. State regulations permit a reward to be paid to an eligible person who provides information that leads to an arrest, prosecution, and conviction for insurance fraud.